Anna Gilbert – Christmas

22 Dec

A review by Brian Palmer

While it’s true that Eugene, Oregon is no Nashville, it has produced its fair share of talented musicians in recent years, chief among them being Mat Kearney, Shawn McDonald, Paul Wright and the band Rootdown. One of our best-kept secrets, however, is pop-rock songstress Anna Gilbert. Her album, Christmas, is one of the freshest Christmas releases ever produced. Simple arrangements and a Ramen Noodle budget help make this album surprisingly unique and diverse, and you owe it to yourself to check this album out if you want to hear something different.

Anna Gilbert’s Christmas is a fantastic surprise if for no other reason than it sounds nothing like all the generic, mass-produced, lifeless Christmas albums that are generally released this time of year. It swings when it needs to, there are moments of genuine fun being had throughout the album, and in some instances the classic songs are performed in such a languid way that you’ll swear they were meant to be sung exactly like this rather than in the traditional manner they are often performed in. Gilbert imbues the tracks with the sincerity they deserve, and at the same time she gives the songs life by not going on autopilot when she sings them, and this is what helps makes the tunes stick in your mind after the album has finished playing.

“Angels We Have Heard on High” is a stunner because of its unexpectedly ethereal and sedated treatment, and Gilbert’s soothing and angelic vocals turn the traditional “Glo-o-o-o-ria” moment into an authentic double-take experience as she throws the first of several vocal curveballs on this album. Gilbert’s rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” sounds for all the world like an orchestral lullaby and the kicked back vibe of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is like having a tropical Christmas experience, complete with Gilbert singing in perfect time to the sounds of a ukulele and nothing else.

Christmas is noteworthy because it is a bare-bones production that uses simplicity, subtlety and creativity to its advantage. The show-stopping moments are found in the subtleties rather than in epic choruses, heavenly choirs or vocals that reach for the heavens. Most of the 11 songs have a languid reverence to them, and on the material that she does write for this album (“Rest in the Light” and “I Don’t Want a Lot” are two songs of her creation, and two more songs feature a chorus that she has added to the original), simple messages and arrangements are used very successfully.

Christmas shines because it is genuine and heartfelt. The tracks are refreshing, unique and engaging, and Gilbert’s lovely voice demonstrates why she is a singer to watch out for. This is one Christmas album that will make you excited about listening to Christmas music again.


2 Responses to “Anna Gilbert – Christmas”

  1. Libby Lynn December 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    I fully agree with this article! Anna’s voice (and the way this Christmas CD was done)makes it a favorite of mine. This is one you will want to have in your collection.

  2. lynn Palmer December 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Great review and great CD.

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